Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a painful stiffness of the shoulder that often occurs between the ages of 40 and 60 and is more common in women.

Symptoms of frozen shoulder include:

  • Pain and stiffness that makes it difficult to carry out a full range of normal shoulder movements such as bathing, dressing, driving and sleeping comfortably.
  • Symptoms vary from mild to severe where it may not be possible to move the shoulder at all.
  • It may be a self-limiting condition often resolving or “thawing” out, over a 2 year period.

What are the signs that I might need surgery?

Persistent pain that does not go away needs assessment. Remember, either shoulder can be affected, in many cases the non-dominant shoulder (eg the right shoulder in a left-handed person).

In about 20 per cent of cases the condition also develops in the other shoulder.

People with diabetes and thyroid conditions are thought more likely to develop frozen shoulder.

What does surgery involve?

Once a diagnosis has been made, (and if the pain is severe and prolonged), your surgeon may recommend an arthroscopic capsular release to speed up recovery.

During this procedure, the scarred capsule is divided or released to allow full shoulder movement.

Although this is a day surgical procedure, there is usually a 6-12-week period of physiotherapy required afterwards to ensure it does not refreeze.